Yes Concert Review: 8/3/13 – Yestival
I saw the progressive rock band Yes play at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey on August 3, 2013 during the second part of their Three Albums Tour. You can read more about this show here. This was a Yestival show, which, as a result, featured a whole roster of bands throughout the afternoon prior to Yes taking the stage. This show featured appearances by The Musical Box, Carl Palmer ELP Legacy Band, Renaissance, Scale the Summit, Volto!, and The School of Rock. In addition, Yes cover artist Roger Dean was there presenting a gallery of his work and meeting and greeting people.
The line-up Yes fielded at this show was:
- Jon Davison: lead vocals, percussion, guitar
- Steve Howe: guitars, backing vocals
- Chris Squire: bass guitars, backing vocals
- Alan White: drums, percussion
- Geoff Downes: keyboards
The set Yes played was (the album from which the song comes in parenthesis):
- Intro: Firebird Suite
- Close to the Edge (Close To The Edge)
- And You And I (Close To The Edge)
- Siberian Khatru (Close To The Edge)
- Going for the One (Going For The One)
- Turn of the Century (Going For The One)
- Parallels (Going For The One)
- Wonderous Stories (Going For The One)
- Awaken (Going For The One)
- Yours is No Disgrace (The Yes Album)
- Clap (The Yes Album)
- Starship Trooper (The Yes Album)
- I’ve Seen All Good People (The Yes Album)
- A Venture (The Yes Album)
- Perpetual Change (The Yes Album)
- Encore: Roundabout (Fragile)
What a wonderful afternoon! This concert was, to the day, the forty-fifth anniversary of Yes’ first concert and, as a huge Yes fan, it was just so cool to be a part of it. Even if Yes did not play, this show had a fantastic roster of bands to see and hear for a great afternoon of prog rock. Yes’ set was the icing on the cake. Genesis‘ drummer Phil Collins‘ son Simon‘s band Sound of Contact was also to play but was unable due to visa issues. Although unfortunate for him, it was very fortunate for Yes fans as his absence made it possible for Yes to play all three albums of the “Three Album Tour” instead of only two as initially scheduled. Steve Howe made the announcement to this effect at the conclusion of playing the Close to the Edge album.
This is a Yes review, so I will stick to that, but suffice it to say that the other bands that played put on fantastic shows in their own right, and were a tough act for Yes to follow. Luckily, unlike the July 4, 2011 show where Yes got shown up by Styx at this very same venue, this time Yes was up to the challenge and blew everyone else off the stage. Renaissance played their classics (though their lineup has been reduced to just Annie Haslam from their classic era). The Musical Box, for Genesis fans, is a real treat, especially for younger ones like me (see here for a more detailed description). They played the Foxtrot set list to their typical precision. Volto! is a band founded by Tool drummer Danny Carey. Volto! plays well composed jazz fusion that would fit in well with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and I really enjoyed them. They are worth looking into in greater depth. Carl Palmer’s band played ELP music but with a guitarist instead of a keyboardist and without vocals. Naturally Palmer’s drumming took center stage. ELP fans either enjoyed them and appreciated Palmer’s drum work outs or decried the blasphemy of converting music for a classic keyboard power trio into a guitar trio. Either way, every member of that band is top notch and Palmer is as good as he as ever been. Scale the Summit was a good modern progressive band which played only instrumental music. I got one of their albums from the show and they do what they do rather well. The School of Rock played on a side stage near the refreshments and they are always fun to watch.
I saw a Yes show at an earlier part of this tour (see here) and this was the third time I saw this lineup (the first time was here) and they got better and better each time. By the time they got to this show, Yes was playing like a well oiled machine and sounding as good as ever. My comments about the songs themselves really do not differ from the two shows linked above in this paragraph. I would just add here that Downes and Davison had really settled into their roles at this point and the band was solid and a tight unit. Everyone sounded great and played really well. It was great to hear “Parallels” and “A Venture” as those two songs, particularly the latter, are truly deep cuts and a pleasure to hear live in favor of more typical songs. The songs are consistently played at the proper tempos too. The only real complaint is that White’s playing is really showing its age. His fills are simpler and his playing much less aggressive than he historically has played.
Two really cool things they added for flair at this show was the confetti at the climax of “Awaken” (as they did on April 7, 2013) but it now also included huge jets of mist. Also, during “Roundabout” they dropped the balloons, that you can see in the photographs below, onto the audience.
I did not mention this in my previous reviews, but I also must say that the video presentation behind the band has also been improving as well. When they walk on stage it is to a great montage of photographs and, as they go through each album, each song is identified by name with graphics from the album on which it was recorded.